Update: Billy Mays, TV Pitchman Extraordinaire, Dead at 50


Preliminary autopsy results on Billy Mays have been released by the Hillsborough County medical examiner’s office. The results show no signs of head trauma, but evidence of heart disease. Medical examiner Vernard Adams said this heart ailment “was certainly capable of causing the sudden death.”

“It’s not unusual for persons with heart disease to die this young,” Adams said. A formal report on the cause of death will not be released until toxicology tests are performed.

This updates post below.

Billy Mays, the ubiquitous television pitchman best known for his infomercials hawking OxiClean, OrangeGlo, and the like, and star of the Discovery television show Pitchmen, was found dead in his Tampa home today. He was 50 years old. Most recently, Mays appeared in ads for ESPN, spoofing himself in an over-the-top selling of the cable sports network. (You gotta love a guy who can make fun of himself. )

Mays was asked once by Playboy if he ever met children who told him they wanted to grow up to be just like Billy Mays. “If I do,” he said, “I crush them.”

“Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days,” said Mays’ wife, Deborah. “Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times.”

Investigators say there was no evidence of foul play but do not know exactly how Mays died.

Mays was a passenger on a U.S. Airways flight that made a rough landing in Tampa on Saturday, blowing out its tires. Mays was interviewed after the incident and told reporters that many items were falling during the landing, and some hit him on the head.

“All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping,” he said. “It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.”

Could this be a similar case to Natasha Richardson, in which a seemingly innocuous head injury was actually far worse than it seemed? Or a sudden fatal heart attack like Michael Jackson?

Whatever the cause of death, Billy Mays was a very recognizable part of our TV culture and will be missed.

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